MEETING REPORT: Perfect Panthers not getting carried away
Peterborough Phantoms team boss Carl Johnson won't get carried away '“ despite a second successive SGB Championship victory.
The city racers snatched a 46-44 triumph at Scunthorpe yesterday (April 2) to follow up a 51-42 home success against the same opponents nine days earlier.
It represents a pleasing start to the second-tier season for a new-look Panthers outfit whose strength in depth already appears to be paying dividends.
Reserve ace Bradley Wilson-Dean was the top-scoring star turn yesterday with a dozen valuable points at the Eddie Wright Raceway.
He featured in the penultimate race 4-2, led by skipper Ulrich Ostergaard, which sealed victory with a race to spare.
The Panthers pair looked on course for a 5-1 for much of the race until Scunthorpe skipper Michael Palm Toft nipped between them to pip Wilson-Dean to second by the smallest of margins.
That was still enough to leave them in an unassailable position although chosen duo Jack Holder and Paul Starke were unable to bank another advantage in the finale to secure a maximum haul of four league points.
They were on the receiving end of a 5-1 from home pair Lewis Kerr and Josh Auty, but it did little to dampen the mood of Johnson.
He said: “The goal was to pick up a win and we managed to do that.
“All four points would have been brilliant, but it wasn’t to be in the last heat. I’m more than happy with three.
“It was important to get off to a winning start at home and terrific to be able to follow that up on the road, but it is still very early days and important that we don’t get carried away.
“We’ve come through two meetings against the only other team which is really built in the same way as our own side.
“We know there will be plenty of tough challenges ahead – especially when we face teams who are more top-heavy than ourselves - and we also know there is still plenty of improvement to unlock.”
Panthers led for the vast majority of the contest and were only briefly in arrears after Holder and the struggling Simon Lambert, who only managed to finish one of his three outings, were on the receiving end of a 5-1 in heat five.
But a two-point deficit soon became an advantage when Starke and Ostergaard claimed a maximum of their own in heat seven.
Starke roared round the outside to take the flag in that race and then did likewise in heat 10 when swooping late to snatch victory from Scunthorpe number one Ryan Douglas.
That was the highlight of an entertaining contest eventually put to bed by Ostergaard in the penultimate instalment.
Starke won three races for the second successive meeting while Holder, Ostergaard and Wilson-Dean all obliged on two occasions.
There was also a handy contribution of paid five from reserve Tom Bacon while Kenneth Hansen also added paid four despite not being at his best at one of his least favourite venues.
Lambert, passed fit after injuring an arm in his own testimonial the previous Sunday, notched his only point in heat 11 after a spill in heat one and a fifth-race retirement.
Johnson added: “Bradley’s performance showed the importance of having a reserve who is capable of stepping up to score big points.
“A couple of guys in Kenneth and Simon had off-nights, but Bradley’s points meant we were able to overcome that.
“Scunthorpe is not of Kenneth’s favourite tracks while Simon looks a little low on confidence.
“But Paul was really racy again with another three heat wins, Ulrich continued his good start to the season and Jack is settling down nicely into his role at number one.”
Panthers are back in action on Sunday (April 9) when they host Redcar in the opening leg of a KO Cup tie.